Preliminary statistics reported by the New York Times indicate that drug overdoses may have caused over 59,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016, which now make them the leading cause of death for those under 50. As death rates rise, so does the price of the opioid reversal drugs. Naloxone is 4,000 percent more expensive since its debut in 1971, doubling in price in just the last few years. This limits local governments' ability to purchase it in response to the epidemic. One potential source of funding may come from the First Responders: Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (FR-CARA) whose purpose is to help put more opioid antidotes in the hands of first responders and others who are in a position to provide emergency treatment for overdose prevention.
First Responders: Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act
This program will enable recipients to:
- Train and provide resources to first responders (including firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMTs, and other legally organized volunteer organizations that respond to opioid-related incidents) to administer FDA approved emergency drugs and devices for opioid overdoses. Protocols and mechanisms for referral to treatment and recovery should also be established.
- Educate health care providers on overdose dangers and encourage them to provide treatment and recovery resources to overdose victims and their families.
- Provide public education on "Good Samaritan" laws regarding emergency overdose interventions.
Applying for the FR-CARA Program
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, and consortia. A portion of the total funding will be reserved for rural communities with high rates of opioid abuse. Apply by July 31, 2017.
Other Ways of Funding Overdose Reversal Drugs
While federal programs like the one above provide partial funding for the required antidotes, many state and local governments find it necessary to turn to other sources in addition to grants. Below are some of the options being tried:
- In Warren County, PA, the Prosecutor's Office provides naloxone to all the county's police departments. If the patient is brought afterwards to St. Luke's University Health Network in Phillipsburg, the network will replace the dosage.
- Ohio has become the latest state, along with individual cities, counties and Cherokee Nation to file lawsuits suits against pharmaceutical companies, alleging they downplayed the risks of addiction to opioids in their marketing.
- Indiana is using part of its $1.3 million settlement against a pharmaceutical company for its alleged deceptive marketing in anemia and psoriasis drugs to fight prescription drug abuse, including naloxone for first responders.
- Massachusetts implemented a Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Program. Prior to its existence, municipalities were paying $33-$66 per dose, which has been reduced to $20 per dose, including atomizers for its administration.
- Delaware County, PA has used asset forfeiture money from drug investigations to supplement its grant money for anti-overdose drugs. It also has a discount agreement with a pharmaceutical company for nasal-delivered kits.
- The city of Baltimore has cut through red tape to allow private citizens to buy naloxone without a prescription. Medicaid patients can purchase two doses for a dollar.
Does your municipality have a unique way of funding naloxone? Please let us know in the comment section below.